Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Sometimes, eating a vegan diet makes me feel nostalgic for my former life. One of those times is the summer barbecue. The smell of food cooking on the grill, friends spending time outside drinking cold beverages, there is nothing more quintessential to the season. And yet, it doesn’t feel quite the same when you’re grazing from the veggie platter sans dip and eating side salad for dinner. I was initially embarrassed about sharing this particular meal as it can be considered neither elegant nor cooking. But, then I realized that this meal has a place in the vegan diet, and may actually be useful for people transitioning into a plant based diet. 

There are a lot of different faux meat products out there, and I have been slowly working my way through them. I will admit, I’m a little scared of them. But I just remind myself that soybeans are a lot less scary than whatever is in a real hot dog. In this dish, I used Tofurky brand Italian Sausages. I also like Smart brand Hot Dogs. Sadly, I do not recommend putting these on the grill as they tend to stick. But, with a mere two minute detour to the microwave, you can participate in the rest of the barbecue fun. The key with “soy-sages” is the toppings. Inevitably, meatless sausages are not going to have the exact same texture as a pork sausage, but with a little attention to the top of your dog, the difference is hardly discernible. Aside from the standard hot dog toppings of ketchup, mustard, and relish, you can take this as another opportunity to incorporate vegetables into your diet. Sautéed onions and peppers make another classic combination with sausages, and chopped tomatoes add a layer of texture and flavor as well as freshness. Served on a warm toasted whole wheat bun beside another American classic, tater tots, you won’t feel deprived by your vegan diet at the next barbecue. I also added a side of sautéed collard greens with raisins and pine nuts to assuage my guilt over my other, less than “whole” side dish. Luckily, a lot of other barbecue staples are already vegan: fruit salad, potato chips, tortilla chips and salsa, sweet potato fries, green salad. I promise if you fill your plate with a generously topped “soy-sage” and all these other assorted trimmings, you will feel satisfied. Events like these are also a great time to introduce your friends and family to the joys of vegan eating, so if you’re feeling bold, bring a vegan peach cobbler with coconut milk ice cream, or a tomato and nectarine salad to encourage and share with the people in your life! 

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